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    Hollandia, capital of Dutch New Guinea. Clustered at the foot of Mount Cyclops, it is?

  • Description

    Hollandia, capital of Dutch New Guinea. Clustered at the foot of Mount Cyclops, it is a town with a mission. For it is here that the Dutch Government is planning the birth of an independent state of West New Guinea. Hollandia is young, it was found little over fifty years ago. And today, there is a new vigour about the town. This is a recent early Saturday morning before 7 a.m., but the handover of young charges to the kindergarten is already under way. Almost everyone works for the Dutch Government, and the official kindergarten allows working wives an early start on the morning's duties.

    Twenty years ago, there were 300 people in Hollandia. Today's population numbers nearly 17,000 - about half Dutch, and half Papuan natives. They work side-by-side, without restrictions. The Dutch are planning and organising for the day when the Papuans will take charge of the country. This Saturday as on every other the whole of Hollandia is in top gear before 7.30 a.m.

    Rear Admiral Platerink arrives for his regular conference with the Governor of Dutch New Guinea. Holland's Navy and Army paved the way by exploration and mapping, for much of the development that Rear Admiral Platerink, and the present Governor Doctor Pieter J. Platel (pronounced PLA-TEL) are helping to guide. One big project is home-building, and new roads for the growing suburbs of Hollandia. But now it is seven-thirty, and primary school begins...mostly they're the youngsters of Dutch officials. However, Papuans may attend, and many do. There are village schools, too, for the native children, and in Hollandia, all youngsters may progress to Matriculation standard.

    The inevitable juke-box completes the modern scene at this West New Guinea version of a supermarket; with bread, at two-and-six a loaf, and beer at two-and-six a half bottle or cheaper unchilled this so-called bakery is a busy spot. It does duty too, as a kind of town meeting place, and an unofficial club for teenagers on holiday from Holland. From neighbouring Australian New Guinea, comes sago for sale on the Hollandia sea-front. After a six hour journey along the coast by this prahu with an outboard motor. Its owner, Umpa Emputi, is head of the local council at his village, Vanimo. The Saturday barter for sago begins..a desultory transaction, as the day's heat grows. And as it is Saturday, the work-force signs off at noon, two hours earlier than during the week. The early start and early finish, here in Hollandia are a legacy from the earliest days of the East India Co.

    Papuans and Europeans share public transport, although most Europeans normally travel by car. And so home, the Dutch families to their hillside houses, and natives to their mainland villages, or their settlements on off-shore islands. Government car driver Pieter Jouwa (pronounced YOHEE) heads for a shoreline framed with stark reminders of more bitter days, when the Japanese came, and then the Americans bombed then out.

    Hollandia is the headquarters of both the Papuan native political parties, and there is much to discuss over the midday meal. The Dutch officials and their families relax, too. At their hillside homes, a possibility is a Sati luncheon. Although Hollandia is close to the Equator, the Dutch do not spare themselves in their work, and enjoy their Saturday afternoons together. Sati is venison, shot in Southern New Guinea, where deer abound. Eventually however, the weather wins.

    Hollandia curls up to sleep, perhaps to dream. The Dutch say they want self-rule for the Papuans as soon as possible. One proposal is for the United Nations to take over in the final formative stages of the country.

    Deceptively deserted each afternoon, Hollandia is destined to become the centre of whatever the future holds for West New Guinea.

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    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
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    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Black & White
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